Fines illegal in Fuji case, attorney argues
Fines approaching $90,000 were excessive and a violation of constitutional rights in the case of a 60-year-old woman convicted of running a Grand Junction prostitution business, an attorney argues in court filings.
Stephen Laiche, who represents former Fuji Massage owner Nan O’Reilly, filed a notice of appeal last week to the Colorado Court of Appeals, arguing fines and surcharges of $89,050 handed by District Judge Valerie Robison in April were a violation of O’Reilly’s Eighth Amendment guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment.
“The court conducted no inquiry as to Ms. O’Reilly’s ability to pay a fine nor did the court take into account the fact that most of Ms. O’Reilly’s property has been forfeited as a direct result of this case,” Laiche wrote in the appeal notice.
O’Reilly was ordered to make the payments while serving six years probation after pleading guilty to pimping and filing a false tax return for her prostitution business, which operated 14 years until November 2008, when authorities shut it down.
Mesa County prosecutors haven’t responded to Laiche’s filing.
O’Reilly agreed to forfeit four of her properties, including Fuji’s former home at 762 Horizon Drive, but she will keep her home in Colorado Springs after paying $74,000 to the government, monies authorities say can be traced as proceeds from Fuji Massage’s activities, according to a settlement agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Denver.
The agreement, which is expected to be finalized by a federal judge July 1, also calls for the forfeiture of a Mercedes Benz and $8,500 in two bank accounts.
Fuji’s final assets are expected to be roughly $700,000, according to John Harrison, a special agent with the Internal Revenue Service in Grand Junction. Harrison said the properties are likely to be sold at auction, although Grand Junction city officials continue to express interest in possibly acquiring the Horizon Drive building.
“Nothing has changed,” city spokeswoman Sam Rainguet said Friday.
Under that scenario, the U.S. Department of Treasury would deed the property to the city without a sale, Harrison said.